How to Customize Free Stock Images

Today is Day 6 in the 10-part graphic design for bloggers series, and we’re looking at how to customize all those beautiful stock images we pointed you towards in yesterday’s post. In the days when blogging first became popular, it was common for bloggers to simply choose an image they liked and just pop it into their post, sometimes with a catchy caption.

However, in today’s crowded and competitive market, a simple photo won’t do. Not only does customizing your blog graphics help you stand out, it also creates brand awareness and increases social sharing.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a designer to customize your stock photos. But you should know a few basics to get started. Follow these tips on how to personalize free stock images to create graphics that get noticed.

How to Customize Free Stock Images

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Create Your Brand

Yes, bloggers need a brand. Branding isn’t just for commercial or retail sites. No matter what the purpose of your blog may be, you likely want to set a certain tone or convey a certain type of message. That is the purpose of branding.

You can use elements such as color, font and image style to achieve the impact you desire. The key to increasing recognition is consistency. It’s important to use the same font, colors and style in everything you post. That means your blog images should always contain these elements.

For instance, using the same filter on your photos will create a recognizable look. You may also achieve a distinct style just by adding a transparent color overlay on top of your images. Use images that coordinate well with your blog’s color scheme. Add text in your blog’s font or font combination to further personalize each image, and always use your distinct colors in this text.

You can also add a small watermark with your blog’s logo to boost your branding, or simply include your URL somewhere on your images, especially the images that you optimise for Pinterest.

Edit Your Images

If you already use Photoshop and Illustrator, or have a desire to learn, these are the tools professional designers use. They also will give you the most versatility and features.

However, there are platforms such as Canva and PicMonkey that have far less of a learning curve and can produce fine quality graphics. Such platforms allow you lots of time-saving options like pre-sized canvas, formatted templates and filtered overlays. The free versions have fewer selections from which to choose. You may wish to consider the premium options to determine if the cost is worthwhile for your needs.

A very affordable compromise is to use ready made templates, like these ones from My Life’s Manual, which can be used in the free version of Canva. And if you do use PhotoShop, Creative Market have some beautiful PSD templates (they even give them away for free sometimes – subscribe to get free design goods every week).

Pin templates editable in Canva

There are many ways you can edit free stock images to make them unique. One easy way is by cropping the photo. Cropping lets you focus on one portion of the overall picture, which can create a cool effect. Softening, blurring or coloring an image by using a filter is another simple way to add your own unique touch.

These programs all have ways of achieving the look you want; just be sure to use that same or similar filter in all your images for consistent branding. The way you incorporate your blog’s font through text also jazzes up your photos in a way that is brand-friendly. Find ways to present your text and consistently use them in every graphic. This can be through bold, chunky layouts or with a more sophisticated feel.

Save Templates

Creating a customized graphic for each blog post might seem a bit overwhelming. It can seem even more of a challenge when you consider that each social network requires its own specific sizing. For example, Instagram images must be square and Pinterest graphics work best when they are tall.

A time-saving technique is to create and save templates in each size you need, then simply switch out the image and text when needed. Because optimal size requirements sometimes change for each platform and purpose, a quick Google search is recommended to determine the correct dimensions.

These are just the basics of how to personalize free stock images. You can design your own simple layouts for your blog images without being a designer. Start simply and learn as you go.


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10 thoughts on “How to Customize Free Stock Images

  1. I love Canva. It has opened a whole new world of opportunities to share our Healthy Marriage Tips in a way that people not only read and like them, but they share them too. I also use Unsplash for my free stock photos.
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. Very helpful.

  2. Great advice! I just tried color under and over images this weekend, and really liked it. In the Canva template I used to create my ebook, some of the image things sort of came with a filter already. I loved the glow it gave my picture of myself. And on some of them, I figured out how to change the color they had (black) to a grey one so it matched my other images. Neat trick, that one.

  3. I just logged in to Canva again after poopawing it for a number of years. It’s really changed and seems a lot more user friendly than it was it first launched. These are great tips, thanks!

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